Dangerous Obsession

by Richard Hunter








Chapter Three




Brian Brown sat at the desk in his den pouring over his textbooks and reference volumes, trying to prepare the lesson plan for his classes tomorrow. He was agitated because he had just looked at the clock and realized it was after eleven o’clock and he hadn’t accomplished a thing. He had left the pool after dismissing the swim team for the day at about six o’clock and now it was after eleven with nothing to show for it. He realized he had apparently been sitting here for hours daydreaming.

At twenty nine years of age, Brian was the youngest of the teachers at Laguna Shores High School. He was popular with the students, most likely because he was closer to their age than all of the other teachers, but possibly because he hadn’t yet become so stern and inflexible that he was unable to treat the kids as human beings. That was the one thing that stood out most in his mind about his colleagues and their approach to teaching.

Brian had been hired primarily to take over for an old, crusty coach that had been at the school for years and had become so obtuse that he had managed to irritate virtually every parent, teacher and school administrator. When the principal and the school board decided it was time for the old man to go, they had focused on finding someone who could relate to the kids and breathe new life into the swimming program. The principal had been embarrassed by the fact that Laguna Shores High, located just blocks from the ocean, had not had a winning team in years. In fact, they had been bringing up the rear for several years now, even against such landlocked teams as Palm Springs and Ontario. He had once mused that he doubted they could win against a team from Sun City, even though Sun City was a retirement community in the desert with an average age among the community residents upwards of seventy five.

Having found that Brian had majored in physical education and minored in history in college, had been a top ranked college competitive swimmer and had been in the Summer Olympics a few years ago, earning the bronze medallion, the school decided he was the perfect choice for their planned vacancy.

The principal was already pleased with the progress of the swim team. They were swimming stronger, better times and participation had doubled since Coach Brown had taken over at the beginning of this year. If everything kept going the way it was, they should have an excellent season and be poised for a championship season next year.

But history was his problem for now. Brian needed to be prepared for his three history classes tomorrow, discussing the French Revolution and a thoroughly unlikable character named Robespierre. Yet, he was having trouble focusing on this lesson, partly because it was quite dull and was not something he could ever imagine the students having use for in their lives - unless they decided to become history teachers or historians - and partly because he was thinking of his swim team.

The boys were coming along well. They had a strong sense of camaraderie that clearly was contributing to their strong improvements in time and overall performance. But he was concerned about what he perceived as a certain closeness between some of the boys.

Brian was by no means a homophobe. He had experimented in high school with a couple of friends but had found it not to be his thing. Ce’ la vie. He held no animosity about it or toward those friends and, in fact, was still close with one of those friends and got together for dinner with him from time to time. He was not against the boys experimenting, sharing themselves with one another. His concern was that these boys - along with most teenaged boys around the country - no longer considered HIV and AIDS a threat to their life and health. Consequently, they no longer considered it necessary to practice safe sex and, in doing so, were putting themselves at serious risk. The success of basketball great Magic Johnson in fending off the symptoms and ravages of HIV had succeeded in convincing a lot of kids that the danger was past, that a cure had been found, and no one seemed to be doing much to set the record straight.

Particularly disturbing were the looks he had watched being exchanged by Robbie Bailey and Christopher Reynolds all through practice today. And then, when he had cut them loose, they had changed faster than he had ever seen before and ran out the door together as if the fool killer was on their hills. He wondered if he should have gone after them, tried to see what they were up to, or maybe take them aside and give them a gentle lecture. It wasn’t really his place, he knew, but he felt a sense of obligation just the same to these kids, to see that they avoided as much grief as possible.

While the looks and their actions were suspicious, Brian found it difficult to believe that they were really gay. Or, at least that Robbie Bailey was gay. He was seemingly very masculine, one of the top swimmers and was always surrounded by a half dozen girls throughout the school day. Most of his buddies were athletes on the basketball and football teams. He just didn’t act gay - or at least until today when he seemed to be looking Christopher over from head to foot and constantly rearranging himself in his swimsuit.

Brian forced his mind back on to his history lesson, frantically making notes and creating an outline with short comments to guide him through his class presentation and remind him of the various topics he wished to address. He sat up straight and rubbed his bloodshot eyes as there was a soft knock at his bedroom door and his mother peeked in.

“Are you still up? Having trouble getting your lesson plan together?” Martha Brown smiled at her only son, the one person she always counted on. When her husband had died two years ago, it was Brian and not one of her two older daughters who had invited her to move in. It was Brian who attended to her welfare as a devoted son.

“Just finishing. Why are you still up, mom?” Brian looked up and smiled at his greying mother, searching anxiously for any sign that she was still grieving over the loss of her life’s mate. Although two years had passed, theirs had been such a close relationship through all the years since they had married at age 17, and his dad’s passing had been so sudden and totally unexpected that it had placed an enormous mantle of grief upon his mother that she was constantly struggling to overcome.

“I couldn’t sleep. I got up to get some warm milk and noticed your light was on. You need to get some sleep, too. Shall I bring you some warm milk?”

“Maybe, but only if you put a little cocoa in it, please.” Brian smiled at the thought. Throughout his childhood, when he had been having trouble sleeping, his mother would bring him a cup of warm cocoa and sit with him while he drank it, then tuck him in and take the cup back to the kitchen. His had been an idyllic childhood. He had been privileged to have perfect parents.

After sharing some cocoa with his mother, Brian walked her back to her room and this time it was he who tucked her in and then turned out the light and pulled her bedroom door closed. He thought sadly about how roles of parent and child had a tendency to reverse themselves over the years and wondered how much longer he would be blessed with his mother’s presence in his life. She seemed physically fine, it was just her mental state and the grief that bore her down. And, sometimes grief could take its toll far worse and far faster than any physical illness ever could.

Climbing into bed, Brian’s mind settled on his on again off again relationship with Stacy Parker, his girlfriend from college. They had been inseparable at the university, had planned their marriage for after graduation, and then, unthinkably, had gone their separate ways during their final year of school. He was uncertain of the cause of their break up nor even the reason they had gotten back together and then broken up again, but now they were together yet again and Brian was determined to do it right this time.

His mind drifted into that state halfway between sleep and consciousness and he could see Stacy in his minds eye, laying beside him in his university dormitory, her naked form more beautiful than any woman he had ever seen. He moved toward her, taking her in his arms, pressed himself against her tightly and instantly he came, jolting himself fully awake and feeling shamed by the mess he had made. Perhaps that was the reason they kept breaking up. Maybe he couldn’t satisfy her because he couldn’t even hold out long enough to get inside her.

Brian arose and cleaned himself, changing underwear and bedding, and then settled down once more to try and get a few hours sleep before having to arise for another school day. He made a mental note to try and ignore anything between Robbie and Christopher and to simply mind his own business tomorrow. Much as he worried about what they might do that could have long term consequences, he realized they may not take his interference kindly and it might result in a complaint against him.